Juan Williams defended his comments about Muslims and blasted NPR for firing him, during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." He called his firing "unfair," a punishment that "amounts to censorship" and accused his critics of "character assassination." "I didn't advocate discriminating against Muslims," he told Fox host Brit Hume. The radio network used his remarks as a "pretext to get rid of me," Williams said.
Williams was fired as an NPR analyst last week after telling Bill O'Reilly that, when he is on a plane with Muslims, "I get nervous."
The firing has ignited a firestorm of debate, with NPR's ombudsman defending the network's decision and conservatives such as Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint calling for NPR's government funding to be cut.
The controversy, Rachel Maddow said on "Meet The Press" on Sunday, could even become an issue in the midterms elections.
"It may be an election issue if Jim DeMint leads the Republicans on this and the Republicans, like they did with Newt Gingrich in power, decide that they're going to go after Big Bird, and they're going to go after him like they went after the NEA and wage culture war again," Maddow said.
Fox News has since signed Williams to a new $2 million contract and Hume defended Williams during his "Fox News Sunday" appearance, arguing that as an African-American, Williams was the victim of a double-standard at NPR.
Chris Wallace congratulated Williams on his new contract: "Let me just say buddy, we're delighted to have you. ... You're among friends."